OZAMIS CITY—- Independent Senatorial Candidate Walden Bello continued to express his condemnation of the bloody dispersal of farmer and lumad protest action last 1 April in Kidapawan City.
In a statement released to media last Friday, Bello said “the protesters are farmers and Lumads who have been suffering for months now the devastating impacts of El nino induced drought. They came and put up the barricade to demand urgent action from government both at the local and national levels. Theirs is a legitimate course of action, as they hope for a response in the form of rice and food to alleviate their hunger, but were met instead with deadly force and violence.”
Later Bello commented on his facebook page: “The report that the farmers in Kidapawan were shot while on their knees underlined that this was an act of state-sponsored terrorism pure and simple.”
Amidst continued criticism against North Cotabato Governor EmilouTaliño Mendoza’s handling of the crisis, Bello called on the embattled governor to “stop justifying an unjustifiable police action and commit herself to supporting a thorough investigation of the massacre, even if the consequences may be negative for her.”
He acknowledged that Governor Mendoza’s acceptance of “full responsibility” for the tragedy, if true, would be a step forward. He said however that a deeper resolve to get to the bottom of things is absolutely necessary in the interest of justice for the victims.
The buck however, according to Bello should not stop with the local government and the police alone, “the Aquino administration must bear a great part of the blame for failing to respond to the devastating consequences of El Nino though it had much advance warning, and focusing most of its energies instead on ensuring the triumph of the LP slate in the coming elections, through means fair or foul, even to the extent of cutting deals with the country’s top jueteng lords.
Bello called Kidapawan “the graveyard of Daang Matuwid.”
Reflecting on the tragedy in Kidawapan, Bello highlighted a graver malaise that was evident in Kidapawan but elsewhere in places like Zambales for instance where a barricade of protestors oppose to mining were also violently dispersed recently.
Bello said “I simply cannot understand why hungry farmers and their families demanding rice are dispersed with live bullets. This is a manifestation both of a culture of impunity and lack of professionalism among the police. “
He adds “this violent dispersal in North Cotabato follows that in Santa Cruz, Zambales, where the community protesting the mudslides caused by mining were also dispersed by police. It seems like the war between the rich and the dispossessed is heightening as the electoral competition comes to a climax.”
According to Bello, “these protests by marginalized people show how little the administration’s policies have contributed to bettering the lives of the poor.” 1. Cotabato farmers after police fired on them. 2. Speaking to Santa Cruz, Zambales, residents last month, a few days before a show of force by the PNP forced them to abandon their barricade against mining trucks.
He lambasted the Aquino administration and its anointed presidential bet Mar Roxas, by saying “while the administration and the Roxas campaign are busy cutting deals with jueteng lords in a futile effort to turn the tide of public opinion against them, the police fire on the desperate and the hungry.” PR